Unleashing Your Inner Pleasure Rebel
The Taboo of Female Masturbation
Parallel Vision Productions | Michelle Melles
One of the first stories I produced for the internationally-syndicated documentary series called “SexTV” was on female masturbation. The story featured the “godmother of masturbation” Dr. Betty Dodson – a renowned American sex-educator and icon of sex positivity who has taught self-loving and sexual consciousness-raising classes to women for decades.
In the story, you see Dodson (who was in her probably in her late 70’s at that time) teaching a group of vibrating, naked women of all different sizes, shapes and ages, how to masturbate. “Squeeze and release,” Dodson is saying with a beatific smile on her face. And the women, who are all standing, rock their pelvises to and fro, their enormous vibrators strategically placed between their spread legs, their heads thrown back in ecstasy.
This story was about self-love, female liberation, empowerment, and sexual pleasure and, in the entire history of the show, it was the only story that had numerous complaints lodged to the Canadian governmental commission that regulates the television industry. And this was a show that had far more edgy stories than something as seemingly innocent and positive as female masturbation.
I quickly learned how taboo female pleasure and sexuality is. Masturbation has absolutely no rationale except pleasure – and, pleasure, as Lydia Lunch says, “is the ultimate rebellion.”
I couldn’t have worked on SexTV if I hadn’t unleashed my inner rebel – and, I’m telling you now – it felt good. As a feminist and social activist, I believe that rebellion (with a purpose) is not destructive but creates positive and meaningful change. “SexTV” sought to break down repressive conventions and stereotypes, challenge the status quo, and open people’s minds. We were trailblazers holding a mirror up to sexuality and gender – in all its permutations (no holds barred) – and reflecting back to the world what we saw. And we did this on national, broadcast television. We were rebels with a cause — and the rules were under review.
From the early suffragettes and birth control advocates, to the bra-burning hippies of the 60’s, to the women and men on the front lines of the civil rights movement, the Occupy Movement, Black Lives Matter, and now the #MeToo movement, people throughout history who rebel against inequality, sexism, racism, gender discrimination, ignorance, and societal and institutional injustice – create change. With their rebellious and determined spirits they passionately and systematically turn the status quo upside down, tear up conventions, and transform reality.
Unleashing your inner rebel means flaunting pleasure in the face of authority and challenging authority in the name of celebrating pleasure.
Francesca Gina is an award-winning Harvard Professor whose book “Rebel Talent: Why It Pays to Break the Rules at Work and in Life,” encourages people to tap into their inner rebel in these turbulent times of ours. “We all have the potential to be rebels,” she says, “but it’s not easy to break rules. Rebelling means leaving behind what’s comfortable, familiar, and known. It means fighting against what comes naturally to us as human beings — the status quo.”
Rebellion in the face of oppressive behaviours (or even mediocrity) creates positive change in the world. Rebellion sparks creativity, enables you to excel, and gives you pleasure. Sometimes, rebellion can mean wearing a bright pair of red shoes with bright red lipstick and dressing in technicolour – like Frida Kahlo. And at other times, it can mean channeling the fierceness and creativity of your wild teenage self with the wisdom of being an empowered and self-actualized adult. Unleashing your inner rebel means flaunting pleasure in the face of authority and challenging authority in the name of celebrating pleasure.
Back to Dr. Dodson. She believed that if women give themselves permission to have independent orgasms, they will have independent thoughts. They will be autonomous, sexually confident beings who won’t have to be sleeping beauties waiting for a prince to awaken them. If young girls knew where everything was and how to give themselves guilt-free sexual pleasure, they might not run out and have sex with the first guy that comes around. Some see this as rebellious.
Dr. Dodson is now 89 years old and has four dildos on her night table and a bowl of vibrators beside her desk. She has short gray hair, a sailor’s mouth, drinks (“at cocktail hour”), smokes a cigarette or two a day, and has a taste for marijuana. She says she was raised with brothers and can fight. She has muscles. But, she attributes her youthful appearance to a healthful diet. And regular orgasms.
She’s a rebel for pleasure and that may be the secret to longevity. It’s also may be the secret to changing the world.